75 Favorite Seeds

Smartweed, the #1 wildlife seed!

The list below ranks in order the top 75 favorite wildlife preferred seeds.

The ranking is determined using two criteria to describe the role of the plant food in animals’ diets:

1) the number of species that utilizes the food,

2) how significant the food is within an individual species overall diet

So while a food may not be popular across a large number of species, it still could be strongly preferred by a few species. By coordinating with a rehabber’s specific needs, a forager can decide which plants to best target for collection.

Be sure to check any item listed below  in the database to see if there are any toxicological warnings associated with that plant or part of the plant.

Common Name Botanical Name
1 smartweed (knotweed) Polygonum spp.
2 ragweed Ambrosia spp.
3 bristlegrass Setaria spp.
4 pine Pinus spp.
5 sedge Carex spp.
6 bulrush Scirpus spp.
7 millet, wild Echinochloa spp. and others
8 panicgrass Panicum spp.
9 switchgrass Panicum virgatum
10 pondweed Potamogeton spp.
11 birch Betula spp.
12 sunflower Helianthus spp.
13 spruce Picea spp.
14 bluegrass Poa spp.
15 elm Ulmus spp.
16 widgeongrass Ruppia maritima
17 wild rice Zizania spp.
18 maple Acer spp.
19 dock Rumex spp.
20 pigweed (amaranth) Amaranthus spp.
21 crabgrass Digitaria spp.
22 sweetgum Liquidamber styraciflua
23 spikerush Eleocharis spp.
24 hemlock Tsuga spp.
25 clover Trifolium spp.
26 waternymph (naiad) Najas spp.
27 maple, box elder Acer negundo
28 chickweed, common Stellaria media
29 wild celery Apium graveolens
30 timothy Phleum pratense
31 waterlily Nymphaea spp.
32 dandelion, common Taraxacum officinale
33 spruce, black Picea mariana
34 lamb’s quarters Chenipodium album
35 sycamore, American Platanus occidentalis
36 goldenrod Solidago spp.
37 alder Alnus spp.
38 arrowhead Sagittaria spp.
39 ash Fraxinus spp.
40 teasel Dipsacus spp.
41 thistle Carduus spp.
42 thistle Cirsium spp.
43 poplar, tulip Liriodendron tupilfera
44 eelgrass Zostera spp.
45 wood sorrel Oxalis spp.
46 coon’s tail Ceratophyllum demersum
47 buttercup Ranunculus spp.
48 magnolia Magnolia spp.
49 bur-reed Sparganium spp.
50 flatsedge Cyperus spp.
51 teasel, Fuller’s Dipsacus fullonum
52 hornbeam, American Carpinus caroliniana
53 cordgrass Spartina spp.
54 violet Viola spp.
55 cornflower (knapweed)(starthistle) Centaurea spp.
56 dropseed grass Sporobolus spp.
57 crowngrass Paspalum spp.
58 sawgrass, Jamaican Cladium mariscus
59 clover, white Trifolium repens
60 elm, American Ulmus americana
61 locust, black Robinia pseudoacacia
62 sweet bay Magnolia virginiana
63 rice cutgrass Leersia oryzoides
64 honeylocust Gleditsia triacanthos
65 cosmos Cosmos spp.
66 larch Larix spp.
67 purslane Portulaca spp.
68 basswood, American Tilia americana
69 brome Bromus spp.
70 vetch Vicia spp.
71 tamarack Larix  laricina
72 redbud, eastern Cercis canadensis
73 mullein Verbascum spp.
74 horned-pondweed Zannichellia palustris
75 aster Aster spp.

What Criteria is Used for the Ranking the Lists?

The main resources used to build this website usually rated foods in three levels of preference: high, middle and low. But, a plant may be high preference in Michigan but lower preference in Virginia.  So the preference factor has some built in limitations. Still, it is factor #1 in the algorithm.

The second factor considered was how many species of animals ate the part of the plant in consideration. A seed that 29 species of animals  eats would outrank a seed that only 5 species eats.

From a foragers perspective, it would be ideal to collect the most  highly preferable foods that feed the widest range of rehabilitation animals, right? Well maybe not.

Consider if a rehabilitator only works with foxes. To research which foods would be most beneficial in the “fox only” scenario, the only consideration that she would care about is the most preferred food for foxes, not how many other species ate it.

So the ranking lists are the most general broad interpretation of the data. You will want to generate your own lists from the search feature to find out just what you want to target for collection.

References Used with Permission:

The Fire Effects Information System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).

Fire Effects Information System (2017) Plant species ecology literature reviews. Retrieved various dates from https://www.feis-crs.org/feis/

Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., Nelson, A.L. (1951). American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. New York: Dover Publications.

Scott, M. (2013). Songbird Diet Index. National  Wildlife  Rehabilitators  Association, St. Cloud, MN.